‘Slap on wrist’ for West Yorkshire criminals

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Criminals in West Yorkshire are escaping with no more than a caution for offences including violent or sexual crimes and burglary.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post reveal a total of 6,886 cautions were given to adults in Leeds in the two years up to the end of March.

Just under 2,400 were issued for what West Yorkshire Police describe as “violence against the person”.

Twenty two cautions were handed out for sexual crimes and 48 for burglary.

More than 1,350 were for theft and handling stolen goods while 1,043 were for drugs offences.

A total of 2,768 adult cautions were issued in Wakefield during the same two-year period.

They also covered crimes such as violence against the person, sexual offences and burglary.

More than 2,600 reprimands and final warnings – effectively a system of cautions for 10 to 17-year-olds – were given out in Leeds and Wakefield over the two years.

The local figures follow the news that, nationwide, the proportion of criminals being jailed for knife crimes has dropped to its lowest in almost three years.

Less than one in five offenders caught in possession of a knife or offensive weapon received an immediate jail sentence between April and June this year, the first quarter that the proportion has dropped below 20 per cent since 2008.

The Government has, however, said anybody convicted of possessing a knife should expect to be sent to prison and judges have been told to consider a 12-week starting point for the lowest-level offence.

West Yorkshire Police today defended their record on issuing cautions.

A spokesman for the force said: “Last year we arrested over 80,000 offenders throughout West Yorkshire.

“A caution was issued in only 7,736 of these cases and this is significantly less than the national average for other police forces.

“We are the sixth lowest force to use cautions, reprimands and final warnings, using them in only 18 percent of detected crimes, compared to 22 per cent nationally.

“Our detection rate is broadly in line with other forces, indicating our lower caution rate isn’t a result of detecting less crime.

“With regard to burglary for example, we charged over 96 percent of offenders – less than four percent received a caution and these tended to be in cases which were unusual or exceptional.

“Cautions are useful because they give some people a ‘second chance’ allowing them to learn their lesson and to avoid a lengthy and unnecessary journey through the courts and criminal justice system.”

Today’s figures were released to the YEP by West Yorkshire Police following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

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